A positive user experience is critical to the success of your online efforts when it comes to site navigation. A poorly designed navigation can reduce user satisfaction and increase bounce rate. Ask yourself, “What are my main website goals?” The navigational choices you offer readers should correspond to those goals. Also, take into consideration the logical path a viewer might follow as he converts to a customer. Utilize buyer behavior to your benefit as you map your navigation. Plan your sitemap using an outline, spreadsheet, or diagram so you see everything in one place.
Menu navigation should be straightforward and intuitive. Here are some tips to help make that happen.
· Employ a clean design with a generous use of white space. Utilize minimal font types, a clear color scheme, and ensure that content is scannable.
· Clear out items that are non-essential in regards to getting viewers to take the action you want.
· Use vivid colors for calls to action and links that are in obvious contrast to the other content on the page.
· Use breadcrumb navigation at the top of your content that shows each viewer’s unique trail that led to where he or she currently is on your website.
· Provide access to the main menu at the top of every page. This menu should be discernable from other navigational options by placement location, color, etc.
· Use your logo as a link back to your homepage.
· Use text links instead of graphics buttons. Bots can easily crawl text and this will help your optimization. No harm is done in regards to users as people are quite accustomed to an underlined and differently colored text being utilized to indicate a link opportunity. Neil Patel had this to say about text links versus buttons: texts are easier to update and easier for search engines to crawl. Buttons load more slowly, are less accessible to the visually impaired, and are, basically, unnecessary.
· Content hierarchy should be logical with categories, sub-categories, and specific terms.
· Navigation should be consistent throughout your website.
· Your navigation bar should be obvious to any viewer. Along the top or down the side is standard.
· Provide an easy to find search bar. People tend to look for it in the main navigation bar or sidebar.
· Strategically place key items or links at the top and bottom (or far left and far right) of lists as viewers’ attention tends to focus first on the beginning and end of a list.
· Your logo (link to homepage) should be located at the top left or top right of every page.
Less is more
· Minimize choices at each level. Limit choices to seven or less. This helps guide visitors to where you want them to go next. Lead people around your site, don’t make them hunt.
· Help keep viewers from becoming overwhelmed by too many choices.
· Stick with standardized menu formats such as single or double bars, hamburger, and sticky menus.
· Include a search function on your page. Use the spyglass to indicate your search bar.
· Keep your navigation options in the header or sidebar.
· Post your social links towards the bottom of the page.
· Use your logo as a link back to your homepage.
The anti-dropdown school of thought
· Dropdown menus can be difficult for search engines to crawl. They can also be challenging to use. They move more quickly than our eyes and require fine-tuned clicking. Some people have difficulties performing more intricate mouse movements.
· Use links to broader categories and provide different options directly in the page content. Choices can be separated by colors, columns, rows, etc. You can always provide a distinct call to action button for each choice on the page.
If you DO use dropdowns
· Minimize the number of dropdown menus on your page.
· Use an indicator such as a side or down arrow to indicate that a given menu line has additional sub-options available.
· Keep dropdown lists short so people don’t skip the pages featured in the middle of the list.
· Instead of generic titles, use keywords related to your business as headings. For items in your menus, use descriptive, specific language instead of vague terminology. Say “Fuzzy Cat Toys” or “Flashy Dog Collars” instead of “Products”.
· Include words and phrases specifically relevant to your products or services. This not only provides clearer choices but also helps your SEO.
· Don’t choose creativity at the expense of clarity. If you have a place on your website where you advertise open positions within your organization, use “jobs” or “employment” instead of “wannabes”.
· The terms in your navigation bar and menus should be concise, easy to scan, and easy to comprehend.
· Mobile friendly menus are imperative in this day and age. While some might disagree, hamburger menus work well in the compact space and consumers have been trained to look for that specific menu design. Responsive design is a must…need I say more.
Always make your first consideration user experience. Everything else comes second. The more intuitive and easier it is to use your website, the lower your bounce rate and higher your conversions will be. Effective, clear navigation will positively impact user experience.
Does your website navigational design help visitors find their way? For a roadmap to clarity and all of your digital marketing needs, contact the experts at Strategy Driven Marketing.